In addition to vitamins and minerals, a number of different food supplements are often recommended, including lactobacilli (Lactobacillus acidophilus or bifidus) and chlorophyll. When your child is taking a prescribed course of antibiotics, supplementing his diet with yogurt is helpful, and taking lactobacilli for at least ten days after the treatment is very important. Antibiotics are indiscriminate in their choice of targets. They destroy the necessary "friendly" bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract right along with the harmful bacteria they are designed to eliminate. Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidus restore healthy flora to the intestines and bowel. Chlorophyll, the green pigrnent found in plant tissue, is a natural deodorizer and contains many useful trace nutrients, especially magnesium. It is helpful when treating ailments as varied as bad breath, canker sores, chronic constipation, impetigo, menstrual cramps, vaginitis, and mononucleosis, as well as in rebuilding blood after a major bleed or in rebuilding bone tissue after a break.
Giving Nutritional Supplements to Your Child
Vitamin and mineral supplements are either isolated from food sources or manufactured synthetically. Synthetic and natural vitamins and minerals have identical chemical structures and supposedly do the same work within the body, although there is some controversy over which are more effectively absorbed and used.
Whether you select a natural or synthetic formula, be aware that the contents of any supplement have to be altered in some way to put them into pill, powder, or capsule form. A nutritious, varied diet remains the best source of both vitamins and minerals.
Many vitamin and mineral formulas designed to appeal to children contain refined sugars or artificial sweeteners, such as sucrose, mannose, xylitol, and aspartame (NutraSweet). Some health care practitioners question whether artificial sweeteners are carcinogenic. To be safe, select a formula that does not include them. A health food store will likely carry a child-pleasing vitamin and mineral formula sweetened with honey or rice syrup. Such a formula is a better choice.
To avoid upsetting your child's stomach, it's best to give vitamins and minerals with food. Minerals are best administered at the beginning of a meal. Vitamins are best administered at the end of the meal, when your child's stomach is full. If you are giving a combination vitamin and mineral supplement, give it to your child after a meal.
Age-appropriate therapeutic dosages of nutritional supplements may be found in the beginning of Part Two. When treating your child with nutritional supplements, you should be aware that if a formula appears to be helping support your child's body, it does not follow that "more is better." A toxic overdose of a vitamin or mineral is rare, but it can occur, especially with products containing iron. Although a reaction to an age-specific dose of a vitamin and mineral supplement is likewise rare in childhood, be responsible and careful in administering them. If your child should develop an upset stomach or any adverse reaction, decrease the dosage or stop giving him the supplement.
Follow the storage instructions on product labels. In general, you should store vitamin and mineral supplements away from heat, tightly capped, and out of reach of your child. Keep vitamins A and E in the refrigerator. These two vitamins are usually oil-based and will keep longer in a cool environment. Check expiration dates on formulas. A vitamin or mineral formula that has passed its expiration date will not have full potency.
Paying attention to diet and nutrition is perhaps the single most important supportive measure you can offer your family's health. A good diet will optimize health, just as a poor diet will chip away at your overall health and well-being. A healthy, nutritious diet based on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and moderate amounts of clean, lean protein will increase energy, strength, and vitality-and will help your child's body to resist illness. Bring home food from the produce section; limit your use of prepared foods that come in boxes, cans, or frozen packages. Discover if there are organic farmers in your area and support them, or ask your grocer to stock organic produce (or, if you can, grow your own!). Take the time to learn about preparing foods that are life enhancing-abundant in essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
From Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand, N.D., L.Ac., Robert Rountree, MD, Rachel Walton, RN, ©1994. Published by Avery Publishing, New York. For personal use only; neither the digital nor printed copy may be copied or sold. Reproduced by permission.